One of the more consistent practices across all Oklahoma towns and cities is zoning laws. Some well-meaning folks set up our lovely communities to keep us safe from the more unsavory aspects of society, and all in all, I thank them for it. Seriously, it’s nice to know that a strip club can’t pop up in the middle of neighborhood or right next to a school. It’s a level of planning we don’t often see with Oklahoma cities, and it’s nice it’s there.
However, we need to talk about enforcement. There’s a rule on the books that says sex novelty shops can’t open up within 1,000 feet of a residentially zoned property in Oklahoma City. That’s all fine and good. But if that’s the case, how come these stores are allowed to open up in the first place?
Sure, they’re being cited after opening, but it’s clearly not that big of a deal if they’re allowed to open up in the first place without much push back. And I get how a sex novelty shop can seem like a pretty big deal. But that’s pretty much only if you’re like 15-years-old and not legally allowed to enter one of those places. It takes a certain level of inexperience, and honestly, a lack of internet connection to think that these places are peddling anything out of the ordinary. And can we talk about how convenient it would be to have a (plug alert) Patricia’s in your neighborhood for that one time a year when you and your partner want to spice things up instead of falling asleep in sad sweat pants while binge watching something on Netflix?
This isn’t to say that I’m not down with preventing dangerous institutions from popping up near residential areas. That’s why I think we need to stop building churches within 1,000 feet of residential areas and schools. You may think that I’m just making an inflammatory proposal, and yes, yes I am. This is The Lost Ogle, after all. But know that this proposal would probably do a lot to prevent molestation and sexual abuse in the great state of Oklahoma…
Yesterday, NewsOK.com reported on this story of an OKC youth pastor who raped a girl in his congregation. Who can forget the “blind” church camp employee that raped a girl? This church bus driver killed himself over accusations. In 2015, this other OKC youth pastor was charged with four counts of solicitation of a minor with technology. Just this past May, a Norman pastor was charged with lewd/indecent acts with a child under 16. In 2013, this Lawton youth pastor was charged with child sexual abuse after he exposed himself and masturbated in front of a boy. In January of 2010, this Crescent pastor was charged with sexually abusing two 14-year-old girls in his home.
No, these cases aren’t connected, and no, this is definitely not an exhaustive list. These are just some of the top Google search results of the cases that have actually been reported. I’m sure there are tons of other cases that have been reported, and even more where a sexual predator is being hidden by the church because it would ruin his reputation, and as the catholic church reminded us, the churches rarely care about the victims — you know, the people who have had their lives ruined by this predator.
And while an Oklahoma pastor has proposed a database to track sexual abuse in churches, I’m not sure it’s enough. While these predators should absolutely be tracked, tracking these guys means you have to let the crime happen one time, and that’s one time too many. Instead, there should be a very intense screening process before they’re allowed to work as pastors, and even then, I don’t want these men of god near my home, just in case.
I’m only bringing this up because I can’t find any stories where the owners of sex toy shops did something this heinous. And yet, there’s an ordinance preventing sex toy shops from opening up within 1,000 feet of a neighborhood. However, churches seem to be the place where sexual predators in this state go to thrive, and most folks wouldn’t bat an eyelash at a new church being built just down the street from their home.
To conclude, let’s quit heckling the so-called perverts, and put some laws in place to keep the real ones out of our communities.
You can heckle Marisa on Twitter @TheMarisaMohi